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Archive for November, 2010

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What a week of cooking it’s been.  At this point, all I have energy for is posting a few pictures.

Two days before Thanksgiving, our friends Charles and Monika and their puppy Djuna (after Djuna Barnes) stopped on their way to Atlanta for the night.  Earlier in the afternoon, Jack and I made egg noodles to go along with the cabbage-wrapped meatballs.

I toasted coriander seeds in my cute little skillet.

For dessert, I made a chocolate-espresso-Irish whiskey bundt cake that was so rich and moist it came out almost black and was a heady thing to eat.  I made it again the next day, to bring to Thanksgiving at the McKelly’s.  (But failed, both times, to take a picture.)

Thanksgiving was a meal Sharyn and I had been planning for awhile, and everything came out beautifully.

I cooked these sprouts up with pancetta and walnuts.  I made a cranberry tart, and Jack helped me—gleefully—mix up the crumble topping.

Here—later—is Jim carving the ras-al-hanout-rubbed turkey.

And here’s Mimi almost beside herself with party-anticipation.

Sharyn, with her usual elegance, had set two tables with simple, seasonal, but always tasteful decoration.

And the kids had fun at the kid table while the adults’ conversation wound its unpredictable way from raising llamas to running to the love of chocolate to Turkish coffee.

Sharyn, Jim, and Mimi: we’re thankful to have such good friends as you!

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gravy

I do love cooking projects that require days.  No-knead bread. Gravy from scratch. I’ve done both this week.  The no-knead bread was for dinner at Matt & Christina’s, where we had a delicious, mostly local meal that unfolded at a nice relaxed pace.  First, Christina cooked up some little pizzas with Indian-spiced tomato-mustard green sauce topped with goat cheese.  The unusual combo worked beautifully.  Meanwhile, Jack followed Matt in and out as he went to fire up the grill, check on the rabbits and chickens out back, and then grill some home-raised rabbit. There was salad chock full of peppery arugula from our Red Root CSA, and for dessert, creme brulee with local persimmons. Jack didn’t want any, until he saw that dessert involved flame! A spectacular, sustainable meal.

The next day, I started the gravy, using Julia Moskin’s recipe from the NYT.  You start by roasting 6 turkey legs basted with butter every 20 minutes.  The house was filled with the most wonderful aromas.  Then, you make the stock, the most elegant detail of which, I think, is the peeled onion stuck with cloves.  I have two cold bowls of fat-topped liquid in the fridge at them moment: the stock and the deglazing liquid, which will all eventually be combined, after I make a rue with the fat and some flour.  I made this gravy two years ago when my in-laws came to hot and sunny Alabama (from cold and leafless Massachusetts) for Thanksgiving.  It was heavenly.

It’s one long week of parties. Tonight, our good friends from Berkeley (who now teach at U of Southern Mississippi), Charles and Monika are stopping in for the night on their way to Atlanta.  These are the kinds of friends with whom you laugh so hard you strain your diaphragm.  I’m hoping to make a meal conducive to good times. We’ll start with something basic and salty: pistachios.  This will be followed by braised cabbage-wrapped meatballs made with semi-local, all natural pork.  (I’m hoping there’s a cabbage in my Red Root bag today when I pick it up with Jack, after school.)  Roasted carrots, pasta (I’m hoping to get to home-made), and for dessert Nancy Silverton’s Irish Whiskey Brownies with walnuts and currants.

Thursday, we’re doing Thanksgiving with Sharyn, Jim, & Mimi.

A good week.

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sugar cane

Whoa!  This week, along with all of these rich greens, we got a long stalk of sugar cane in the CSA haul.

I don’t know what to do with it!  I immediately googled it, and here’s one piece of advice I found on the endlessly entertaining internet:

“To eat it you have to chew it like gum or like a cowboy (straw).” [Wikihow.]

My friend Chantel, whose family we share the CSA with, exclaimed “guarapo!” a Cuban pure sugar drink made by grinding and pressing the sugar cane.  Well… sounds good, but I don’t have one of those grinders handy.

You can use sticks of it as skewers for kabobs, for pork or shrimp.  But that seems like a waste.

Kheer, which requires sugar cane juice. But how to juice it?

This guy made some interesting discoveries.

But I’m still not sure what I’ll do with it. It makes an interesting accessory…

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We’re deep into our CSA season with Red Root Farm, in Banks, Alabama, and we’re knee deep in big leafy greens: kale, collards, mustard, cabbage.  The first three I’ve cooked many times before, and know that with some pancetta, garlic, or walnuts tossed into the saute pan, you can’t go wrong.  But I’m not big on cabbage.  Cole slaw stayed behind in my childhood.  Braised cabbage has appeared infrequently on my table.  What to do with a beauty like this?

(Cinnamon bear is looking on dumbstruck, as you can see.)

So, since the red ones are my lentils of choice lately, I was pleased to find this yummy recipe on Smitten Kitchen, under the heading “recipes from a cumin junkie.” Love it.

Another veggie that I’ve… um… rediscovered is the humble turnip.  The other night I made a hot pan of braised and glazed turnips and carrots to go along with the chicken I’d roasted while my family was visiting.

But I’m also a sinner when it comes to foodie pleasures.  Total locavore, I am not.  As you know, I take great pleasure in my Bialetti, and am even a bit fanatical about it.  The new one I have, the Brikka, makes an actual crema through the use of a pressure valve.  Check it out:

The best accompaniment to an espresso?  The thinnest, spiciest little gingersnaps on earth, from Sweden, and purchased at World Market.

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